The Big Flashing Neon Sign.
I’m not sure what just happened.
It involves my big glaring neon sign (see previous entry), an hours long phone conversation, and a child named Vladik.
You have to know that I hate talking on the phone. I avoid it. I don’t answer it. I never, ever talk on the phone for hours. Ever.
My friend told me there was a cute little boy named Vladik on the host list for summer hosting with the organization she uses.
I looked at his picture.
Yeah, he’s cute.
Maybe I could just get a little information about him, because I’m not sure what I want to do and more information never hurt anyone.
The coordinator of this hosting program called me. Her name is Shari.
She doesn’t know me, or know anything about Igor’s story.
We started talking and she explained to me how their hosting program is different than others. They have a team of doctors (!!) review the files of each child and create a comprehensive development plan for the children. They then give that development plan to the child’s host family and give them specific tasks to work on with the child during hosting.
This is to make the most of the one on one attention each child receives while they are away from the orphanage.
I like this! Why do other host programs not do this?
And there is more that they do differently than most, but that’s not the point of what I’m writing to tell you at the moment.
Somehow during the course of the conversation I explained to her where we were at right now with Igor, trying to decide what to do.
As it turns out Shari has adopted a child who ended up having RAD. Igor has many “symptoms” of RAD. Refusing to eat, refusing to bathe or brush his teeth, killing our pet guinea pig, trying to control every situation by manipulation, setting Tyler and I against each other (triangulation), and I could go on.
No, Igor is not a heartless monster. He’s a child who has a shitty life. And I love him regardless of these behaviors, and I believe he also loves us. Truly.
Shari was able to tell me the honest truth of what it’s like to live with her son who has done these exact same things. She adopted him at age three. He is now in his teens.
She told me that sometimes the best thing you can do for a child like Igor and for your own family is to choose to support him in his country rather than try to bring him here.
It doesn’t mean you are giving up on him. It doesn’t mean you don’t love him. It doesn’t mean you won’t feel overwhelmingly guilty.
It doesn’t even mean that we can’t host him again in the winter, for a shorter period than the twelve weeks of summer.
I am deeply sad though. I just…I don’t know.
I love him.
I don’t love his body odor, or his fuzzy teeth, or his moaning every time we try to go somewhere, or the way he sabotages every fun thing so he can still be in control, or the fear that he will hurt another pet, or worse a child, or the way he asks for food then throws it away and pouts, or how he refuses to eat entirely until he passes out, or his sometimes unpredictable impulsive behaviors that keep me constantly on guard.
But I love the boy that is underneath all of those terrible things. So much.
I also love my other three children and my marriage.
The hosting group will find another family to host Igor over the summer if we choose not to.
Honestly I am interested to see how he would do for a totally different family. Maybe it would be good for him. Maybe he would have fun. They might have other boys his age, they might do more physical activities than we do.
When he’s here it’s a fight to even get him to take off his pajamas and do anything other than watch cartoons. Maybe he would find more to do with different people.
I wish I could tie up these loose ends into a neat little package with a bow and a fine, clear cut ending.
But I can’t, because it’s too painful.
Has it been worth every second of the pain and struggle?
Would I do it over again?
Is my heart shredded into 10,000 pieces at the moment?
Will I give up now, take my bits of broken heart, and go home?
Not in a million years.
This is Vladik, because the heart is an amazing entity. It has the capacity to break, to begin healing, to continue loving freely, and to multiply that love to more than one lonely child.
Not a replacement, but an addition. And maybe the beginning of a new story…